SEATTLE — Dropping points at home is never good. Claiming just one point in three home games is about as bad as it gets. That this is the same team that built an 8-0-2 record at CenturyLink Field heading into this stretch, is downright unacceptable.
While there was no shortage of frustrations to come out of this game, there were some positives as well.
Harry Shipp’s scoring: I don’t think anyone will try to convince you that Shipp is anything like an elite outside midfielder, but let’s give the guy some credit for the brace he scored on Saturday. Shipp now has five goals on the season, including three in his past four starts. Each of those last three were on far-post runs, something few other Sounders’ wingers seem inclined to make. Victor Rodriguez can’t return soon enough, but Shipp has done a fine job holding down the fort and could be useful off the bench. He’s now got more goals than in any of his pro seasons since scoring seven as a rookie back in 2014.
Joevin Jones as a left back: Let me start by saying that I thought Nouhou was having one of his best games before he got pulled after 59 minutes. But it’s also true the Sounders looked far more dangerous going forward after Joevin Jones replaced him. The Sounders were playing in more of a diamond midfield at that point and Jones’ ability to get forward was imperative to giving them any width. He reminded us why he was so fun to watch during his previous Sounders stint and his perfectly placed cross in the 65th minute set up Shipp’s equalizer.
Jordan Morris’ continued evolution: A week ago, I made the case that this was a more confident version of Morris than we’d seen in previous years and that it could bode well for him when he returned to the wing. He only had one shot, but he was again one of the main engines for the Sounders’ offense. From his cross that eventually found Shipp for the opener to his layoff to Nicolas Lodeiro on the go-ahead goal, Morris kept finding ways to have a positive impact.
The pairing of Xavier Arreaga and Kim Kee-hee: I’m not quite willing to label Arreaga as a bust and I don’t think Kim has suddenly regressed, but they do not appear to compliment each other particularly well. What’s concerning is that while their style of play can potentially be altered to work together, neither seem very good at defending aerial balls. That’s where the absence of Chad Marshall and Román Torres is being felt most acutely. What’s also concerning is that even if you put someone like Gustav Svensson or Saad Abdul-Salaam back there, I’m not sure the problem is suddenly fixed.
Inability to control tempo: This seems like it’s been something the Sounders have been talking about all year and it was perhaps most obvious in this game. Even after scoring the opener and going ahead again in the 66th minute, the Sounders never seemed to fully control the match and continuously allowed the game to be stretched. That’s largely a product of the numerous turnovers in the midfield. The Sounders can’t let that happen.
The handball debate: Let’s first acknowledge two things: 1. The penalty call was not “wrong.” The Carles Gil’s pass hit Jordy Delem’s hand and we’ve seen that called a penalty many, many times. 2. Teams who are playing well don’t worry about a few calls here and there and blame those for their struggles. That said, the call was definitely “harsh” and the Sounders had only given up two shots between their go-ahead goal and the penalty call, so it wasn’t like they were falling apart. Delem had virtually no chance to pull his hand out of the way and the ball was heading away from the goal. It’s just a shame that a call like that ended up deciding the result.